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How Is HPV Diagnosed?

Women can be tested for HPV during a routine Pap smear or through home testing kits through companies like Nurx. There is currently no FDA-approved HPV test for men.

What to Expect During an HPV Test

HPV tests are typically conducted during a routine Pap smear, though it may also be done separately. The doctor uses a speculum to widen the vagina and view the cervix. Some cells and mucus from the cervix are taken as a sample and sent to a laboratory, where the cells are tested for the virus.

With an at-home HPV screening kit from Nurx, women can screen for the 14 high-risk strains that potentially lead to cervical cancer. Pricing for the kits include the lab tests and results, free delivery, and prepaid return.

HPV Test Results

If you test positive for HPV, that doesn’t mean that you’ll get cancer. However, it does put you at a higher risk for developing cancer, so your doctor may recommend a follow-up Pap test to check for any abnormal cells. If you also had a Pap test and the results were normal, the doctor will likely have you come back for another Pap test and HPV test in one year to see whether any cell changes have occurred and whether your body has cleared the virus.

HPV Testing Recommendations

HPV tests are available for women as young as 25. From ages 30 to 65, women should have an HPV test and a Pap test every five years. If the tests are done separately, the recommendation is to have an HPV test every five years and a Pap test every three years. After age 65, women no longer need HPV testing if they’ve had normal test results for several years or had their cervix removed during a total hysterectomy.

Men and HPV

There’s no FDA-approved HPV test available for men. Often, medical providers will use HPV tests available for women on men who they believe are at higher risk. This is an “off-label” use of the HPV test.

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